Leelah Alcorn

Image found via Google Images on Creative Commons

Image found via Google Images on Creative Commons

By Matiara Huff

On December 28, 2014 Leelah Alcorn was pronounced dead, and her death did exactly what she wanted it to do. At the end of her suicide note she wrote “The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s f***ed up’ and fix it. Fix society.”

Leelah Alcorn was a 17 year old transgender girl and all she wanted for her 16 birthday was permission to have gender reassignment surgery, and the support of her parents. Instead she was met with hatred and embarrassment. She was verbally abused and denied her surgery. Then, after coming out in school as a stepping stone, her parents took her out of school, cut off all of her social interaction, and put her in conversion therapy for 5 months. When she finally went back to school, she thought that things would get better but all of her friends moved on, and she said this made her feel lonelier than ever.

Leelah was struck by a tractor trailer at 2:00 a.m. on a highway 4 miles from her house, then at 5:30pm the next day her suicide note was set to post on Tumblr. She explained everything that she went through and why she decided to kill herself. She posted a second note to apologize to her siblings and friends. Since then, Leelah’s life and death have gone viral and have sparked a movement that she would have wanted. The only way to keep the movement going is to not forget her.

Leelah’s story is just one of too many tragic stories, and it is time that we change our society so that we don’t have to hear about these stories grounded in such hatred. At the Women’s Center, we recognize these problems, and we take the necessary steps to support everyone, no matter what their gender expression is. We want to make this world a better place for all of us. Until it is a better place for all of us, everyone is always safe and welcome in the Women’s Center.